When it comes to homecomings, the return of outfielder Cameron Maybin to the Marlins hardly compares to Dwyane Wade’s reunion with the Miami Heat.
After all, Wade was a celebrated star who was instrumental in the Heat capturing three NBA titles. Maybin did no such thing during his brief stay with the Marlins, and is perhaps better known as one of the central figures in oft-maligned Miguel Cabrera trade than for any of his accomplishments on the field.
“I’m not on a Dwyane Wade type level,” Maybin said, smiling.
But after signing a one-year deal Wednesday to strengthen an uncertain Marlins outfield, Maybin sure sounded happy to be back even though he’s been away so long that he mistakenly called the Marlins by their old name — “Florida” instead of “Miami.”
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“I drove down here today, no GPS, no directions, and it was like I never left,” he said. “So it was pretty cool coming back in. It’s like I almost never left.”
After trading off their entire outfield over the winter, the Marlins went searching for help to lend veteran support to the cast of youngsters they received in return for Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna.
So they signed Maybin, a 30-year-old veteran with 11 seasons of big-league experience for $3.25 million. Maybin will likely see ample playing time while the prospects are given time to develop.
“I think when we look at how we are currently constructed, there is a lot of youth,” said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. “It’s nice to mix in an element of guys who have been through battles, been through the ups and downs of a Major League season.”
Maybin, at one point, was supposed to be the next great thing. At least the Marlins thought so when he headlined the blockbuster trade with Detroit in 2007 when they sent Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers.
“I remember being young,” Maybin recalled. “I was a kid, 19 years old [actually 21 when he made his Marlins debut]. It’s something that I’ll never forget, being a part of something so big.”
But, like pitcher Andrew Miller, who was also part of the six-player package the Marlins received from Detroit, it didn’t turn out that way.
Though he created a bit of excitement by going 16 for 32 after being called up toward the end of the 2008 season, Maybin never lived up to the promise that came with being a former first-round draft pick.
Hill acknowledged that the Marlins probably rushed Maybin too quickly.
“That’s probably something that we weren’t very good at in the past, but something we fully understand moving forward,” Hill said. “He was pushed.”
After hitting just .257 with a dozen homers in parts of three seasons with the Marlins, they traded him to San Diego for reliever Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb. Maybin would go on to play for the Padres, Tigers (a second time) Braves, and Angels before Houston claimed him off waivers last August.
The timing was fortuitous for Maybin, who served in a backup role for the Astros and, as a result, won his first World Series ring. The Astros will be shipping it to him in the coming weeks.
“I’m excited about that,” Maybin said. “I don’t care how they get it to me, as long as they get it to me. They can bring it in a truck, a bus — it makes no difference.”
And Maybin is excited to be a Marlin again.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “It’s been about 10 years I think. It’s the Miami Marlins now.”